The Orkney Islands are different from mainland Britain and reflect the original 9th century Viking settlement. In addition to Norse heritage are remains of prehistoric monuments such as Stenness Standing Stones at Finstown. Steep-roofed stone houses line streets winding around medieval St. Magnus Cathedral. A museum featuring Orkney artifacts is housed in 16th-century Tankerness House. Other attractions include Maes Howe, Britain’s best-preserved megalithic tomb, and the stone-age village Skara Brae. Rock circles, cairns, standing stones, ancient tombs and prehistoric villages are scattered about, gaining these islands international recognition. Only the walls and tower of the 12-century residence, Bishop’s Palace, stand. The top of the tower affords a great view of the cathedral and across Kirkwall rooftops. Earl’s Palace dates from 1600. Its style blends medieval fierceness with elements of French Renaissance architecture – featuring dungeons, massive fireplaces and magnificent central hall. A good mile south of town is Highland Park – the “most northerly legal distillery in Scotland.”
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